MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On the table at Minneapolis City Hall on Wednesday, a city ordinance that aims to combat discrimination when it comes to housing.

Officials are debating an ordinance that would prohibit landlords in the city from discriminating against Section 8 applicants. A lot of landlords in the city have spoken out against this new proposal.

Their argument is simple: Why would city officials take a voluntary federal program and mandate it? They claim this ordinance would prompt landlords to hike up rent prices to avoid participating in the program.

Section 8 is a housing choice voucher program through the federal government that aims to assist very low-income families, the elderly and the disabled in finding housing on the private market. Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses and apartments.

The proposed ordinance would prohibit landlords from refusing applicants who use Section 8 and other government housing vouchers, like GRH.  Those in support of the measure cite 58 other jurisdictions across the country that have similar ordinances, but the advocacy group Minnesotans for Sensible Housing Policy say this would destabilize the housing market.

“We’re very concerned about the repercussions both in terms of our business and operational costs and in terms of the effect it could have on the market,” Cecil Smith with the Minnesota Multi Housing Association said. “It could really increase rates. It could accelerate the loss of affordable housing in Minneapolis.”

“Why wouldn’t you want to accept this type of housing program?” Quantina Washington said. “To where people would be able to have a roof over their head rather than sleeping under a bridge.”

The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority also talked over recommendations on beefing up its inspections program and making it easier for folks using Section 8 vouchers to move within the city.

If approved, the ordinance would go into effect in May of 2018.

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